Bears, Bugs, and GOATS! oh my!

I drove to Port Angeles feeling excited and proud of myself on the adventure I had claimed.  One or two nights in the woods, alone. 

I reached the Wilderness Information Center (WIC)  and parked my car in the lot, prepared to await morning and purchase my pass and bear canister. 
I unpacked my sleeping bad and Pema Chodron's book on 'How to Meditate' and prepared to sleep in the back seat of my car.  I glanced at the street lights and the darker unlit lots near the forests edge.  I felt I was in good company near the lights and decided that it was a good enough place to sleep.
I climbed into the backseat of my car and almost immediately fell asleep.  Exhausted from the long drive and my busy day of appointments and tying up loose ends in preparing to make it out for tonight.

When 6:30am finallay arrived, I climbed out of my car and stretched my legs.  Still groggy from my multiple awakenings, I began to think I may have slept better if I pitched my tent in the grass near the forests'  edge. But I shook my head and decided to climb back into my car and doze in and out of sleep until 8:30am arrived and I could walk into the WIC and take care of buisness.

When 8:30 finally did arrive, I awoke to people already parked in the lot and anxiously waiting for the WIC to unlock their doors.  I was surprised  to see that being outside had become so popular.

When I went inside I spoke to a ranger that had informed me that I had bought the wrong pass and that I could purchase a one night pass and that he needed to know which campsite I was going to stay and for how many nights.  I was surprised that backpacking had become more like a family campground, but was still determined to hike to a camping spot by myself. 

"Are you going by yourself or in a group?"  asked the Ranger.
"By myself."  I said, awaiting his thoughts on the matter.
He seemed more or less un-phased by my reply but wanting to make sure I knew what I was doing.
He showed me my route on my map and checked me out a bear tin.  He wished me a good time and I felt confident as I left the WIC.

Back into my car and dressed to hike, I followed the Rangers direction on how to get to the trail head.  I was surprised to see that the roads were paved all the way through and had wished  had enough time and swim wear to jump into Lake Crescent, that reflected an iridescent blue.
 I was happy.
 I felt energized and alive to be subjected to such beauty.

When I reached my trail, I decided it would be better to not accidentally drop my keys in the woods somewhere so I stashed them on an unknown car part near my tire.  I threw my bag onto my back and headed down the trail.
I smiled to myself as I thought of how proud I was to be back outside with the trees and the dirt that lifted off the ground when I walked.
The smell of pine sung around me like a parade welcoming me back into the forest.

I came to Sol Duc falls and remembered a friend had told me to take pictures so I snapped a couple and decided to move through and find my trail.  I walked through the nearby campsite and found a deer trail and walked that about 20ft when I realized there were two other trails that looked equally worn, if at all.  I decided to walk back and see if I missed the trail.  I pulled out my map and stared at it a while before I remembered that I left my park pass in the car.
 I asked  myself if they would even check for it.
I decided it wasn't worth the risk for only being a mile in and wanting to start out on the right foot (haha get it?)
 I hurried back tomy car, grabbed my hidden keys, got the pass, tied it on my backpack, hid my keys again and headed back down the trail.

"Did we just pass you going the other way?"
"Yes, I forgot my pass in my car."
I speed by them, eager to find my trail head.  An hour had already slipped by and I wanted to get a move on.
I returned back to the place I left and opened up my map.  I decided that the trail leading the other direction must be the right one, so I happily started hiking up the hill thinking about what kind of scenery awaitedme.
Before to long I ran into another sign pointing to Deer Lake and one pointing the other direction: Sol Duc Resort. 
I took out my map.These lead in the opposite direction of the trail I wanted.
I returned back to my spot by the falls and opened up my map once again; thinking the Ranger may have had his hat on too tight when he pointed out this trail for me to take.
"You got it all figured out?" A nice gentleman who was with whom I assumed was his son, asked me, peering into my map.
Eager for some help, "No, I can't find the trail head and I'm thinking it may be closed down.  Do you know this area?"
"It's been a while since I have backpacked up here but let me see."
I informed him of where I had intended to be going and where I saw the 'closed for repairs' sign.
The man walked with me to the sign, and to my mistake, the trail continued just to the left of the sign.  We exchanged smiles and I thanked him.

It had now been two hours since I arrived at the parking lot.  A little frustrated that it had taken me this long, I decided to put it behind me and move forward. I hiked in my new boots which I knew I should have broken in first and with my pack that I was now remembering how it did not fit so great.
 My excitement had started to shift down a couple notches as I began to count my missed goals and question my purpose of this trip.

My mind wandered aimlessly through the accounts of my day and my goals of this adventure.  Why did I want to camp alone?  I felt my mind begin to battle as I was frustrated with only being able to spend one night out and how long it had taken me to find the trail.  I felt my pride twinge at these facts and then move away.
I trudged up and up, badgering myself with endless questions.  When was I going to reach my campsite?  Did it matter?  Of course it matters! Why can't you enjoy the moment?  What does that mean?! What was I going to do when I got there? Do you really want to do this?

Question after question as my legs grew more and more tired. I thought of the author of the book I was reading.  She did this for 2 months by herself, and I am struggling with one night.  I felt somewhat betrayed by my endeavor and that I had already failed.

Three and a half hours later I finally reached a clearing, too tired to climb much more, I decided to set up camp.
I unpacked my tent and unrolled my thermarest and sleeping bag.
 Exhausted, I fell onto my bed and slept for an hour.  When I awoke I decided that I should eat something.  Not feeling hungry at all but knowing it was better to eat now then wake up hungry later. I grabbed my bear tin and walked across the trail and onto a large rock where I set up my stove and ate macaroni and cheese.  I thought about my year in Explore and how we feasted on our left over freeze dried meals the last night out.  I wished I had someone there to share my meal with.
I swatted the bugs in the air and pictured how it would be funny to see someone like me, alone, getting so angry at bugs.  I chuckled to myself as I swatted more angrily at them. 

When I finished my meal, I rinsed my dishes in the creek and enclosed my bear tin and left it there on the rock I ate on. I walked back over to my tent and climbed back into bed.  My shoulders ached from the weight of my bag and my legs were sore from the amount of climbing I did.  I slowly drifted to sleep.

I awoke to the sound of a four legged animal galavanting through my camp.  My mind went immediately to a bear.  Having never camped in the park before, I decided if I lay there motionless it would move on and leave me alone. I heard several others come galloping through.  My heart began to speed up.
'Do bears travel in packs?' I thought, "Only if they have a cub?'     'SHIT.'
If there was a cub, I knew I was in trouble.
I heard one of them begin to tear into a bush near by and then another into a patch of somehing near my tent.
I could hear it's breath on my tent as it started to paw at it.
'Please God, pleeeease.'
I remembered that bears are more afraid of you then you are of them so I decided if I made some noise maybe I could alert it that there is something in this tent. The choice seemed better than having it tear into me..
I sat up and peered through the mesh of my fly-less tent, to find a white faced animal catch my eye and run off.
'White bears?  They're white? I thought they only lived up north?!'
I peered through the mesh long enough for my wits to come about me that there were no 'white bears' in this area...
'Not deer...Goats!'  As one turned to the side I saw its long goat body and horns unraveling through the top of his head. 
But my fear was not done yet.  'What were they smelling that would make them paw at my tent? Was a bear going to come sniff my tent to?  Why aren't they finding my bear tin?'
I became angry that the forest service wouldn't let me hang a bear bag away from my tent now, and I became angry that perhaps someone dumped their leftover lunch somewhere onto my campground.
Interested now, I watched to goats from my tent run back and forth from one spot to the next.  They didn't seem to be in a hurry to go any time soon.
I unzipped my tent and stood barefoot on the ground.
I clapped my hands and held my arms up in the air, "Hey goats!  Come on!  get outta here!"
The one goat looked up at me from the cherished goat spot and then back down.  Totally un-impressed by my arm waving and yelling.  I thought about putting a little more movement into my goat dance but noticed two horns coming out of the head once again.  I decided then to go back to bed and wait for the goats to leave.
I eventually fell back asleep and decided that bears were too smart to hang around with goats.

When I awoke, my head ached and my stomach felt bloated and stiff.
'Damn carbs', I thought to myself.  I fantasized about orange juice and apples.
I realized I should probably drink some water and remembered I was running low.  I reached for my sweet water and read the label regarding an expiration date.  It had been three years since I bought the stuff.  I remembered my iodine tablets and opened one.  Powder dusted the ground.  I guess I should have checked those things before I left.  My pride too another hit.
I decided I would then just pack up all my belongings and hike out.  Nauseous and migraine induced, I didn't appeal to the decision much, if at all.

When I gathered up my things and lathered in bug spray, I took a couple final pictures, looking for one a future painting might induce.
I then hoisted on my pack and began my trek down the mountain.
Once again the badgering kicked in.  I felt like I had failed.  I didn't make it as far as I wanted, it took me forever to find the trail head, I was only able to spend one night, I didn't have enough water, and goats scared the living day lights out of me!  I had failed this trip.
I was on the bridge of tears as I was thinking about what people would think after I told them this story when I became aware.  'What would people think'? My whole trek up this mountain I was thinking about what other people wanted to hear rather than what I wanted.  What did I want out of this trip? A story, and I got it.
As I mentally stepped back from my badgering march of thoughts, I realized that there is nothing wrong with my experience because its MINE. 

People can say and think what they want but the experience was still mine.  My life can only be lived by and through me.  No one else can feel the way I feel and think the way I think.  I am Unique and Enough.
With this moment of awareness I walked to the edge of a switchback and thanked God.
I felt like everything had gone wrong, and here given to me was the awareness that I had set out to receive.  I was reminded of an analogy a friend gave me about holding things with an open hand.
I cannot make a bird come and land into my hand, but if I hold it there palm open, it may choose to.  I cannot make anything come my way.  I may hope for it, but that is all. I could not make myself grasp the awareness of being enough, but once I let go of trying to be, I could see that I was.

How beautiful to have choices.  I have the choice of how I want to live my life and how andwho I want to love.  The same goes that the people who love me, love me because they choose, not because they have to.  How blessed I am.
I feel as though this trip appeared chaotic, I stumbled upon what I was searching for.  The beauty in my true self..

If you had read this far, I hope you have enjoyed this writing and have found some inspiration.
Love and Peace to you my friend.


oh and in case you were wondering, goats like salt.  I figured it was the sweat I left on my backpack which was pressed up against the side of tent where it was digging.  Stupid goats...


  1. Oh Holli... I smiled as I read this! Some things have changed very little... I think to some of the trips I was fortunate enough to take with you in Explore and it sounds like your appetite for adventure has changed very little. I too have had many packing trips go south on me and hiked out early... Those are the ones that we learn from and build character!



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